10 Questions: Christopher Short

The crew of Bella. Guess which one is the chef?
The crew of Bella. Guess which one is the chef?

You may not know his name. Short shies away from cameras and microphones, after all. But only a few chefs have a longer resume, at least when it comes to cooking in Dallas.

Bella, a brand new spot in the Quadrangle, is his first small kitchen. Through much of his 25 years in the city, Short handled duties at the Hotel Crescent Court or The Mansion on Turtle Creek (where he served as private dining chef)...although way, way back in the 80s he cooked at the Willow Bend Polo Club.

So why does a chef with that much experience get nervous...?

1. Do you suddenly feel claustrophobic?
No, not really. I'm used to challenges, you could say.

2. What's the hardest part of starting up a new kitchen?
It's a luxury most chefs don't get. You're not cleaning up someone else's mess, you're creating something that is tailored to fit your needs. But the hardest part...um, I don't really have an answer. It's far from easy, but it's a very pleasurable experience.

3. How long does it take to get new recipes right?
A lot of the things we do are things I've been making at home. I took the summer off, so I've been practicing. But new recipes, it can take three times until you're satisfied.

4. Do you get nervous when you first open?
Oh, extremely. I'm really sensitive. I take to heart how people react to a meal.

5. Is there a dish you hate to cook?
Hmm...I'm not much of a baker. I don't hate it, but it's an art form and I don't have experience at it. Working in hotels, I always had a pastry chef. But here...I even do my own desserts.

6. You do your own desserts? Why do most restaurants buy them?
It's just time consuming. And if you don't have the right equipment and storage, you can't make desserts yourself.

7. We all know the economy affects the front of the house. But does it affect the kitchen?
It does. It affects what you can buy. Our price point is reasonable and to maintain that and make a profit at the same time, you have to be diligent.

8. What is one thing most people don't know about your job?
It's not as glamorous as people think. And the hours are long. Kids who want to get into the industry, I make them question it, really hard. You're going to work weekends and holidays and your birthday. You gotta have strong legs under you, because the day is long and the weeks get longer.

9. Do you cringe when reviews come out?
It just makes me nervous because your reputation is on the line. I know a lot of people and a lot of people know me. It would be embarrassing to get torn apart in print.

10. How has dining changed since you first started?
Dallas has come a long way in 25 years. There's a lot of competition now. Before there were nationally known chefs--Julia Child and Wolfgang Puck. Now everyone's a celebrity. And the standards are set higher and higher every year. It's good for the customer, though.


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